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A Place Called Winter

Patrick Gale

Average Review Rating Average Rating 7/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Tinder Press

Published : 2015

Copyright : Patrick Gale 2015

ISBN-10 : PB 1-4722-0531-6
ISBN-13 : PB 978-1-4722-0531-5

Publisher's Write-Up

Shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award 2015

If you've never read a Patrick Gale, stop now and pick up the Sunday Times Top Ten hardback and paperback bestseller, A Place Called Winter - picked for the BBC Radio 2 Simon Mayo Book Club and the Waterstones Book Club.

To find yourself, sometimes you must lose everything.

A privileged elder son, and stammeringly shy, Harry Cane has followed convention at every step. Even the beginnings of an illicit, dangerous affair do little to shake the foundations of his muted existence - until the shock of discovery and the threat of arrest cost him everything.

Forced to abandon his wife and child, Harry signs up for emigration to the newly colonised Canadian prairies. Remote and unforgiving, his allotted homestead in a place called Winter is a world away from the golden suburbs of turn-of-the-century Edwardian England. And yet it is here, isolated in a seemingly harsh landscape, under the threat of war, madness and an evil man of undeniable magnetism that the fight for survival will reveal in Harry an inner strength and capacity for love beyond anything he has ever known before.

In this exquisite journey of self-discovery, loosely based on a real life family mystery, Patrick Gale has created an epic, intimate human drama, both brutal and breathtaking. It is a novel of secrets, sexuality and, ultimately, of great love.

'A master storyteller. Quite simply, you believe every word he tells you.'

(Independent on Sunday

'This is a convincing and fascinating portrait of daily life over a century ago in a far away place. The mixture of adventure, historical saga and romance is utterly heartwrenching.'

Sunday Mirror

'A tender tale of loss and love.'

Sunday Times
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Reader Reviews

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Review by Ben Macnair (310816) Rating (7/10)

Review by Ben Macnair
Rating 7/10
A Place Called Winter is one of those books with a big heart, humanity, and an ability to make peace with the cruelty that so often happens between people.

The protagonist, Harry Cane has had a relatively privileged life, and although his parents have been distant, he has been to good schools, formed a very close bond with his brother, and made a good marriage, but an encounter with a much older man threatens that, and the times in which the book is set means that any scandal could be ruinous for his family. The affair is only discovered after Harry leaves a message in an autograph book, but it is hushed up, so Harry has no choice but to abandon his wife, his small child (who will be bought up by another man, following his divorce) and start a new life in the wild and unforgiving Canadian Wilderness.

Harry falls in with the wrong crowd, and the charismatic man who accompanies him, is anything but that, but the year that Harry spends working the land, in the company of a caring family, before making a go of it himself is the year that makes him, and turns him from the shy, stammering boy of his youth, into a man of substance. As Harry battles the unforgiving locals, the roughness of the land and finds a new love, there is a happy ending of sorts. The novel itself has a far from linear narrative, we find Harry first in a Sanatorium, where his various defects, and uncertainties are revealed, and we are told in flashback about his youth, his schooldays, and the heart breaking letter he receives from his brother, saying that they can no longer write.

The storyline is a fictionalised account of something that happened to Patrick Gale’s relative, and the basic details are the same, including the name, but much has been left to interpretation, and it is this blending of fact and fiction in this novel that gives it its power.

The book summons up the times, and is a fine read, with believable characterisation, and development.
Ben Macnair (31st August 2016)

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